PARKLIFE 2017 REVIEW

Written by Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

Still on a high after Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert, Manchester hosted its next big music event on the 10th and 11th of June when Parklife Festival took over the city’s Heaton Park. The weekend luckily went ahead without any incidents and everywhere inside the festival grounds seemed to radiate a party atmosphere. Further to this, Parklife boasted an incredible lineup, including Frank Ocean himself as the Sunday night headliner (and he actually turned up!)

I travelled to Manchester from Glasgow for Parklife and, if I’m honest, probably spent more time at a huge pyramid in the middle of the festival than at any stage, and drank far too much spiced rum than it takes to be anywhere near objective, but I’ll scramble together a few mini-reviews of acts at the festival.

Chaka Khan

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One of the stranger names to appear on the lineup actually proved to be a personal highlight of the festival. Appearing on the main stage in mid-afternoon on Saturday, Khan was joined by a huge live band including backing singers, and ended her set with one of the biggest singalongs of the weekend: the double-header of undisputed anthems I’m Every Woman and Ain’t Nobody.

 

Two Door Cinema Club

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Appearing on Saturday’s main stage before headliners The 1975, the Irish indie trio’s set was aided by the day’s nicest weather, as the rain cleared up and some early evening sun descended on Heaton Park during the band’s slot.

The setlist further warmed the crowd up, with Two Door Cinema Club almost shunning their newest album Gameshow completely, with a set mainly comprised of acclaimed debut Tourist History. It’s easy to see why as their debut is a perfect festival album, with tracks like I Can Talk and What You Know which feel as if they were written with this atmosphere in mind.

The 1975

 1975

Parklife saw one of the last shows on The 1975’s seemingly never-ending tour in support of their second album, I Like It Whenyou know the title, as well as their first ever festival headlining slot. How would the Manchester 4-piece rise to the occasion? By doing exactly what they’ve done the entire tour. The set opened as the second album campaign did with the sugary Love Me, and the tempo barely dropped throughout, as the band’s short discography boasts an incredible amount of brilliant pop songs.

The headline billing never seemed to affect the band, and definitely not lead singer Matt Healy, who took his top off after 3 songs and quipped “is he a rockstar? Does he just think he’s a rockstar? Is he too fucking hot? Who the fuck knows?”. The 1975 remain polarising, largely due to Healy’s persona, but with tracks as good as The Sound, soon it’ll be near impossible to deny them.

Stormzy

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Sunday at Parklife was absolutely full of clashes, which left us with some heart-wrenching decisions to make. One of the day’s toughest decisions meant we could only see the first half of Stormzy’s set, so missed out on some of his biggest hitters. However, the Sounds of the Near Future tent was completely packed for the entirety of the London MCs set, with even the back of the tent bouncing to every beat. Stormzy rallied the crowd with ease, repeatedly asking for his “energy crew” as he played tracks from his debut Gang Signs and Prayers as well as older tracks. Before we left, we got to see the roof almost blow off the tent for new single Cold and tracks like Shut Up and Big For Your Boots undoubtedly had the place on its knees.

Frank Ocean
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While leaving Stormzy was heartbreaking, I never even contemplated watching the end of his set, as we left to see Frank Ocean on the main stage. Actually, as it transpired, we could have seen the end of Stormzy as Ocean didn’t appear until 40 mins later than his scheduled slot for only his second performance since 2014.

When he appeared, Ocean walked to the end of a walkway emblazoned with scribbles of his song titles and lyrics in a Brad Pitt t-shirt, no doubt in reference to a GQ article where Pitt lavished praise on the R&B enigma. After Pretty Sweet was played over the intercom, Ocean properly opened his set with Solo from 2016’s Blonde. However, he restarted this track 3 times, mumbling “uh, sorry” in between attempts, and appeared visibly nervous in this rare live performance.

After Ocean finally finished Solo, he launched into Chanel, which he played twice as he “liked that one” and from that point, visibly grew in confidence and grew into his performance. It was a set-list clearly curated for diehards rather than casual fans, as Thinkin Bout You was the only track from 2012’s Channel Orange that Ocean played, with the set-list dominated by Blonde and Endless, as well as the Blonded Radiosingles.

Unsurprisingly with this set-list, the reaction to the set was mixed, with many blasting Ocean for being over-indulgent and pretentious for a festival headline slot. However, you cannot blame him, as Blonde tracks like Nikes and Nights rank among Ocean’s very best tracks, and when a small band join him on stage for the ethereal Self Control, there is no doubt that Ocean is among this generation’s finest musical talents.


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TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB @ BARROWLANDS- 03/02/17

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Having been in hiding for what seemed like a lifetime, which in reality was only four years but a few months can feel like a year in the music world, Irish rock outfit Two Door Cinema Club returned to Scotland with a whole new sound and, for frontman Alex Trimble, a whole new look.

Priding themselves on their unique take on the indie rock genre in the early 2010’s, the band has totally shifted to this nostalgic 80’s aesthetic that spreads not only to their music but the stage as well last night, the Barrowlands shimmering with neon pinks and blues throughout the night. While they may not be the first band to do so, many of the acts who have popularised this look recently were the products of TDCC’s boom back with their debut album back in 2010 and the subsequent rise of similar acts such as The Vaccines and The 1975.

Unlike those bands though, TDCC have been attempting to build upon the poppy guitar sound with Trimble putting it best himself, saying that their new sound “is not embracing the pop that’s going on now in a melodic or structural sense. The two biggest influences for me were Prince and Bowie – both total pioneers who straddled that line between out-there pop and avant-garde craziness.”


The end results are a bit mixed: the first track perormed off their latest album Gameshow was Bad Decisions which is delightfully catchy but Trimble’s vocal delivery goes from soothing to the ears to graining all too frequently while Are We Ready is familiar indie pop that, on first hearing, is just meant to be an inoffensive good time but scratch below the surface and you’ll find some of the band’s most mature lyrics to date.

Although the new material was hit or miss for some, the sheer amount of tracks played off the band’s first two albums was not only a surprise but an absolute treat. The accessible dance pop tinge that was apparent on many of Tourist History‘s tracks shined through last night as it was impossible not to look around the venue and see someone dancing or singing away like it was an indie karaoke night. Even Changing Of The Seasons, an EP release I was convinced I had made up in my head as no one I discussed the band with ever seemed to recognise it, fitted perfectly into the setlist and added to the already great range of variety on offer.

With another night at the barras already underway tonight as well as the act performing at TRNSMT festival this upcoming July, Two Door have made themselves both familiar to those whose radars they weren’t previously on in addition to reminding those who loved the band since their early days that they haven’t lost the magic that makes them so appealing.


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